SU concrete program building lucrative careers for grads

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MTSU graduating senior Brad Brown, right, discuss accepting a new job offer with MTSU alumnus Jonathan Holmes before making his Concrete Industry Management capstone presentation Dec. 9 in the Voorhies Engineering Technology Building. Brown, 23, accepted an offer to work for Wayne Davis Concrete outside of Atlanta. Holmes is a general contractor with Messer Construction in Nashville. (MTSU photo by Randy Weiler)

Students graduating from MTSU's Concrete Industry Management department had much to celebrate after finals last week.

Nineteen seniors completed their semester-ending capstone project presentations Dec. 9. They graduated Saturday, Dec. 12, in Murphy Center.

Fourteen of 19 grads will have a starting salary averaging nearly $53,500 -- nearly $8,100 more than an MTSU concrete graduate's average starting salary of $45,347. The remaining five grads are mulling offers.

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The first and one of only four such programs nationwide, Concrete Industry Management is one of MTSU's signature offerings. It is a joint initiative between MTSU and industry leaders, providing opportunities to enter a broad field that has a need for skilled professionals.

MTSU was the first university to integrate technical education in concrete with business and communication skills needed to advance in the industry.

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"It's been exciting to see these offers," said MTSU CIM chair Heather Brown. "Employers have been making high offers because of competition -- there are more jobs than students -- so they have had a multitude of offers."

Ykeem Wells is a 6-foot, 258-pound reserve defensive end for the MTSU Blue Raiders football team. He is excited about the team playing against Western Michigan in the Dec. 24 Bahamas Bowl, but his career will begin working with Preferred Materials of Bonita Springs, Florida.

"I was pretty excited about that offer," said Wells, who is from Columbus, Georgia. He added the CIM program has "blessed me a lot. It allowed me to get a job."

Brown said it was the first time in her tenure where a student, who was flying home from a job interview, received a job offer in the form of a text message.

Two graduating female students, Morgan Corlew of Nashville and Caitlin McClure of Lilburn, Georgia, accepted offers before graduation. Corlew will work for Kiewit in Denver, Colorado. A former starting pitcher in softball, McClure will join Argos in Atlanta.

Several students found jobs in the Midstate, but most landed work out of state. Positions included sales, estimating, project engineer, operations and quality control.

More than 30 employers, many from out of state, recruited MTSU students this semester. In recent years, the MTSU CIM department has maintained an 89 percent employment rate within three months after graduation.

"This is an excellent time for students to choose CIM as a major," said Jason Crabtree, the CIM lab manager. "Employers are hungry for graduates and are competing to hire upcoming graduates."

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